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The Witness Tree

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  131 ratings  ·  29 reviews
A tree in rural Iowa bears witness to generations of human experience—and deadly secrets.

Dani Holden thinks moving to an old farmstead will help her forget her past. She agrees to help neighbors take down a strange double-headed tree that has stood alone between two fields for almost a century. Unexplainable accidents begin haunting those who help, and Dani must uncover a
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 14th 2018 by Wise Ink Creative Publishing
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Amy Thanks for your question! It came from a comment a friend made, while we were looking at a particularly weird tree in the middle of two farm fields. I…moreThanks for your question! It came from a comment a friend made, while we were looking at a particularly weird tree in the middle of two farm fields. I asked what it was doing there, all alone; she said that she'd heard it was cursed, and that it was never to be taken down.

That rumor swirled through my brain and all sorts of possibilities competed to be heard. I had a lot of fun narrowing them down to the one story that became "The Witness Tree".

Fun fact: her son cut down the tree a year later, and nothing bad happened.(less)
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Mary Dupont
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pendino gives us a shared experience of a quiet place: it is not immune to the world's troubles, but it allows the reader to take it in slowly, thoughtfully, with compassion. Pendino's strengths include descriptive writing about the landscape — the farms, the animals, the plants — even the human beings feel part of the natural order, the way you incorporate “place-on-the-planet.” The book caused me to reflect on Willa Cather, and other writers who “get” the prairie. Beautiful. I liked the length ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been holding on to this book since it was published In September. Wanting to read it yet never seeming to grab it when I had a few moments of time choosing the convenience of an ebook instead of an actual paperback. The book was selected for my book club and I knew it was time to dive in.

I’m so sad that I waited so long! I felt so immersed in the story from the very beginning. Amy’s storytelling took me back to my Iowa roots and I could envision every scene that was taking place. I could p
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it
The Witness Tree by Amy Pendino is a debut novel by a Minnesota author that I met at an opening of a neighborhood bookstore. The book appeals to me because it takes place in a rural setting in my home state of Iowa. I can easily identity with the utterly down to earth group of characters that populate the small town and surrounding countryside. But old-fashioned values and common sense mask an undercurrent of mystery, mythology, and superstition that begins with the story of Lilly in the late 19 ...more
Chris Norbury
*Disclaimer" I don't read a lot of "women's fiction," which is what I would call this--rightly or wrongly--so take my review for what it's worth.

Beautiful writing with rich, realistic characters are the hallmarks of this story. At first, the story questions seem rather mundane--is the Witness Tree bringing bad luck to those who chopped it down? What happened to Lillian? Yet, Pendino draws us into the parallel stories of Dani and Lillian and makes us wonder and care about the outcome.

By alternati
S.L. Benelli
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I exchanged books with Amy and I fully expected to read a womans romance novel. I figured that I would read for a while and when it got too chicky I would hand it off to my wife or one of my very literate daughters but the more I read, the more I liked it. Amy has a very tasty way of getting her point across. The story was a good one and it is darn well deserving of the awards she has been given. I think that this book is very adaptable for a movie. It checks all of the boxes. Amy is a talented ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
A little slow and more than slightly unbelievable at times. I never felt fully invested in any of the characters. Just an ok read.
William Wehrmacher
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Witness Tree is an absolutely marvelous book. I would have given it five stars except that parts of it made my blood boil, although I suppose that is what Ms. Pendino intended. So, five it is.

The book has two time lines, both principally set, in what I assume to be, northeast Iowa and Minneapolis. I've lived in that area for most of my adult life and so I felt some familiarity with the physical environment. However, I was not prepared to come face-to-face with the racism that I suppose exist
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First, let me say that I was really thankful to have received this in a #goodreadsgiveaway, or I might not have seen it at all. I am so glad I was able to read it and happily review it here.

This is a lyrical story of two women coming into their individual independence. Two time settings, one starting just before America's involvement in WWII, the other in contemporary times, but both located in the same small town in Iowa. Typical set up, right? But, what my description can't possibly convey is
Russell Ricard
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Literary fiction that delves into the psychology of humanity and interpersonal relationships is my ultimate cup of tea. And Amy Pendino’s novel, The Witness Tree, is a soothing yet complex brew. The story is told through parallel narratives, one set in 1939, and the other in present day Iowa that comes full circle. The prose is lush, poetic—no wasted words. Mystery is rooted throughout, particularly in the search for the truth behind the so-called Witness Tree curse. Other questions are raised t ...more
Tess Mertens-Johnson
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the small Iowa town of Crestview, a double headed tree marks the boarder of two farms. It is rumored the three is cursed by the locals as a migrant worker hung himself from the tree 50 years earlier.
Dani moves to Crestview, leaving the Minneapolis St. Paul area and the stress of her job and life and buys a farm by the tree. Another farmer Jacobs and two brothers (nicknamed Tator and Tot) take down the tree, much to the push back from the locals.
Then a series of traumatic events start to happe
Julie Holmes
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A tree is taken down, supposedly unleashing a curse. Dani Holden, a city girl and newcomer to a small rural Iowa farming community, gets involved in the destruction of a rumored cursed tree. One accident later, she starts to search for the true history behind a curse that may affect her, if there is one. Lilly Bradstreet's story is told in parallel to Dani's search for the truth. Lilly lived years before, and her story shapes the history of the legendary tree. Dual timelines reveal the story in ...more
Christine Bauer
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I didn't want this book to end! The characters Dani and Lilly became like friends to me. I loved their similar independence, grace, and spirit, even though they grew up decades apart.

Amy Pendino is a beautiful writer and storyteller. Not only has she developed these rich characters, she has created rich and wonderful scenery and setting that shine a light on the beauty of the midwest and both the simplicity and complexity of small-town life. I look forward to reading Amy's future books.
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads, dnf
I read to 45% before giving up. I found it well written but the story was too slow and I didn't connect to any of the characters. I may give it another try in the future. I wouldn't usually rate a book I didn't finish but I guess because this was a Goodreads giveaway I have to mark it as read and give it some stars.

I received this book for free through a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway but this has not influenced my review in any way.
Renee T
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Two main characters, one from the past, one in the present and both female; Amy Pendino tells a story about love, hate and friendship through them. I enjoyed this story and was particularly fond of Lily. I felt she was a woman ahead of her time. It's a rather thought provoking little novel! (Do you believe in curses? Is guilt really the curse? What are the origins of your own prejudices?)
You should read The Witness Tree.

Carol Anderson
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended by a friend and I couldn’t put it down. It is hard to believe it is a first book for this author. The evocative language used took me straight to the time and place settings. I really enjoyed the back and forth between characters chapter style used and that is not usually true for me. Can’t wait for more from this author!
May 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
The story, overall, has good bones. But, it definitely lacks in character development, story development, and there are holes all over. It was a bit of a tiresome read, in my opinion, with a lot of missed potential. And the whole bit about the “cursed tree” could have been left out completely as it really had no true baring, or consistency, on the story at all.
Shar Jerabek
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this two-part story, looking at the lives of two women who lived in two different times, but who shared a common secret. This story has mystery, great descriptions, and believeable characters. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to sink their teeth into a good story!
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very descriptive and powerfully character driven! Amazingly intertwined between 1939 and present day.

I’m very much recommending it and also very much looking forward to the sequel which I hope is coming!
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this story of two women from different generations, both struggling with what they want in life. Amy draws you in with all the great characters and very descriptive writing. I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a book to read with a bit of romance and a bit of mystery.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good read..thoroughly enjoyed!
Deb Levandowski
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book with twists and turns!
Michelle Shaffner
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully written takes readers on a journey that braids through generations and reminds us that issues that resonate with us today were on the minds and hearts of our ancestors as well.
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent story! The ending will have me pondering for quite a while... I hope there is a sequel.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My neighbor gave me her copy of The Witness Tree to read. I loved the book! I will recommend the book to the north shore book club and to the Club West Book club in Blaine, MN.
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a debut novel of a MN author. The story takes place in rural Iowa (is that redundant?) and plot was compelling. It was a quick and enjoyable read.
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book. Tells the story of Lilly in the 1930s and Dani in 2002. Very different and yet similar, independent women. A good read.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books-read
A solid and beautiful story by a native, debut writer. I really enjoyed how the two girls stories tied into each other. It was fun to ping pong back and forth through history and modern day. Being from Minnesota, it’s fun to read a book with local references, too.
Alisha Perkins
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Starts slowly but the ends leaves you wanting more! Hope this amazing author keeps writing!
Teresa Fennessy
rated it liked it
Jan 20, 2020
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Amy Pendino is a Minnesota native. A former middle school teacher, her days are spent with horses, coffee and words. Past fodder-producing occupations include playing keyboards and singing for a local band, waitressing, working as a secretary in a college athletic department and a bank, and singing back up (once) for an international star. She horseback rides a new mountain range every summer. A m ...more

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